<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ynXfwzb1Aw4″ frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>45:51Giller ISM in America and so I think45:53that obviously did lend an added sense45:57of urgency to the 2016 election and let46:00me answer your first question by46:02mentioning somebody else who’s vital to46:04this entire narrative arc and that’s46:06Mitch McConnell because let let me say46:10this and and you certainly you’re46:13certainly free to disagree but but we46:16would not have president Donald Trump46:18today he would not have won the election46:19in 201646:20had that Supreme Court seat not been46:23dangled out in front of voters in46:26November of 2016 by blocking hearings on46:29on Merrick garland President Obama’s46:32nominee to fill that Supreme Court seat46:34when Antonin Scalia very unexpectedly46:35died in 2015 by by blocking hearings and46:40not allowing Merrick garland to be46:42confirmed Mitch McConnell helped Donald46:46Trump to mobilize untold numbers of46:48voters who may not have been willing to46:50turn out and vote for Donald Trump46:52otherwise and Mitch McConnell’s the46:53first person to realize that he and I46:55had a discussion about this in detail46:56when you think about the fact that46:58Donald Trump won the presidency by three47:01states Michigan Wisconsin and47:03Pennsylvania by a combined margin of47:06seventy seven thousand seven hundred and47:07forty four votes and when you look at47:10the exit polling in those states and the47:12issues that were most important to47:13people and when you see that somewhere47:15between 18 and 22 percent of the47:17Republican voters in those states said47:19that their number one issue was judges47:21do the math Mitch McConnell whether you47:25love him or hate him whether you are a47:26die-hard liberal or a bleeding-heart47:27conservative Mitch McConnell47:31absolutely delivered the white house to47:33Donald Trump by holding open that47:35judicial vacancy and traditionally I47:36think we all can recognize those of us47:39who pay a lot of attention to politics47:40those nerds among us that conservatives47:43traditionally are much more invested in47:45the judiciary than our Democrats and47:48that is a big source of concern right47:51now on the left you have some ascendant47:53groups now trying to match on the left47:54sort of the apparatus that has been47:56built out on the right with the47:57Federalist Society and others but to47:59answer your question absolutely the48:01judiciary was critical to the outcome in48:03twenty48:04Dean yes sir I’m curious if during your48:08reporting you you spoke to any Democrats48:11who had some some regret or even just48:14self-reflection about the attacks they48:16leveled on John McCain and Mitt Romney48:18in o8 in 2012 in the sense that when48:22they leveled largely the same attacks48:23against Donald Trump they sort of came48:25off as the boy who cried wolf that is an48:28excellent excellent excellent question48:31and the answer is yes look folks48:35MIT Romney in 2012 Jake Tapper at CNN48:39said said this to me once and I thought48:41it was perfectly put at least through48:45the prism of the mainstream media and48:47the media perception of MIT Romney in48:492012 he was the dog torturing robber48:52baron and by 2016 he was the white48:55knight of the Republican Party and what48:57changed right what changed during that48:59period48:59look Mitt Romney like any candidate for49:01high office should be held to a high49:03standard but the obsessive coverage of49:06Mitt Romney’s sort of weirdness his49:09other nests49:10you know he irons his jeans he said that49:13his wife owns a couple of Cadillacs you49:16know look we all get it that you know he49:19as he said self-deprecating Lee when he49:21was wearing a tuxedo at one of these49:22white tie dinners he said finally I get49:25to wear something out in public that we49:26wear around the house right and he got49:29it right but it was almost to the point49:32it was almost to the point of absolute49:33absurdity by the end of the 201249:35campaign and as you may recall there was49:37this presidential debate with Barack49:39Obama in which Mitt Romney was asked49:41about needing to diversify the federal49:44workforce and specifically why there49:46aren’t more women in high-ranking49:47government positions and Romney offered49:50this very very interesting well thought49:52answer about how when he was governor of49:55Massachusetts he had made that a top49:56priority and that it heard him how49:58whenever he was attempting to fill a top50:00staff position that all these resumes on50:02his desk were men and so he went to his50:04chief of staff who was a woman and he50:06said look I want to get more qualified50:08women into these positions and as he’s50:11answering this question50:12Romney then says and she did and she50:14wanted bringing me these whole binders50:16full50:16women now to any reasonable person who50:20was listening to that you think man50:23that’s good for him it was a really50:24thoughtful substantive answer and for50:27the next 96 hours all you heard was Mitt50:30Romney as a misogynist and Mitt Romney50:32doesn’t know how to talk to women and50:34Mitt Romney is weird and awkward and50:36look folks I am just sitting here50:37telling you I travel to 38 states in50:392016 covering the campaign I’ve talked50:41to a lot of voters I will tell youbeyond a shadow of a doubt that thedesensitisation people have begun tofeel especially conservatives who feellike the media is always beating up ontheir guysthey have been numbed to it and when2016 came around these criticisms ofDonald Trump oh he’s immoraloh he’s unethical oh he’s a hypocritehe’s a womanizer he does and says thesedisgusting vulgar things they fell ondeaf ears for a lot of voters they tunedus out and that is something I alsotouch on in the book I think it’s reallyimportant to understand the role that51:14the media and public perception plays in51:17all of this and this book is not meant51:20to hold up a mirror just to Donald Trump51:22and just to the Republican Party it’s51:23meant to hold up a mirror to all of us51:24because I think every single person51:26sitting in this room can probably do a51:28little bit of soul-searching and a51:29little bit of reflecting on how we got51:31to this point the role that we all may51:33have played in it either individually or51:35collectively I I have two related51:37questions one is to what degree did in51:41terms of victory and moving forward will51:43vote suppression and gerrymandering be a51:46factor in keeping the Republican51:48majority moving forward or not not51:52majority but being able to hold the51:54White House and the Senate second is51:57what accounts for the Republican Party52:01which has been chronicled in books like52:03chain reaction and Nixon land you know52:06maximizing racial resentment in52:08dog-whistle racism to the now bullhorn52:11races and we have with Trump what52:13accounts for that transition boy two two52:17good and complicated questions the52:19simple answer I can give to the first52:20one is that obviously Republicans were52:23able to move right pretty systematically52:26as a party after 2010 not just because52:28of the takeover in Congress but52:30because of the takeover in state52:31legislatures across the country and52:33rebuy regaining the ability to draw the52:35maps in many of these states they were52:37able to structurally get a foothold and52:39solidify their power now the 2020 census52:43is coming and there will be an52:45opportunity for Republicans and52:46Democrats alike to fight for the ability52:48to draw those maps and that is a huge52:50focus right now obviously for Democrats52:53who feel as though they have been52:54targeted systematically and very52:56effectively by these Republican52:58gerrymanders I should remind everyone53:00that political power but political53:03parties exist to promote and protect53:05their own power and the Democrats have53:07been known to do a little bit of53:08gerrymandering themselves and as53:11high-minded as I would like to be about53:13this process in these calls for reform I53:16will believe that Democrats after53:18winning back some of these state houses53:19will not abuse the gerrymandering power53:21when I see it because if you look at53:23some states like Maryland it’s a bit of53:25a Picasso painting I if I were king for53:29a day I’d wave a magic wand and we would53:31have a nonpartisan redistricting53:32commission every state in America we53:34would redraw as many of these lines as53:36close to 50/50 as possible not because53:38it would give us a bunch of mushy53:40moderates53:41but because we could actually have a53:43debate of ideas let me say this really53:46quickly because it shocks people when I53:47say it I give talks all the time about53:49Congress and when I say this it blows53:51people away53:52Democrats flipped 40 seats last November53:55right that’s a wave election by53:57anybody’s metric 40 seats is a big deal54:00it is a sweeping rebuke to the54:01president’s party and yet how many54:04voting members are there in the House of54:06Representatives anybody for 35 what is54:1040 out of 435 but eight and a half54:12percent okay you go back to 2010 biggest54:17wave election we’ve seen in our54:18lifetimes anybody remember how many54:19Republican pickups there were in 2010 6354:25oh man 63 Republican pickups in 201054:28biggest wave election we’ve ever seen in54:30our lifetimes54:30what’s 63 out of 435 s about 14% I54:34cheated I’m not that good at math I54:36promise I’ve memorized these things the54:37point I’m trying to make to you is that54:38in the biggest wave election we’d ever54:40seen in our lifetimes in 201054:4386% of the seats in the US House of54:46Representatives remained loyally54:48partisan locked down by one of these two54:50parties and in 2018 went another big54:53wave election 92% of them roughly54:55remained locked down by one or the other54:58party what does that tell you it tells55:00you that the overwhelming majority of55:02the elected officials we send to55:03Washington are not chosen in November55:05they are chosen in their primaries and55:07what do we know about primary turnout55:09well in your average off your55:12congressional primary election turnout55:14is gonna be somewhere between seven and55:16fourteen percent and who are the seven55:18to fourteen percent who are turning out55:19to vote in those primaries are they the55:21very reasonable persuadable moderates in55:23the middle of the electorate who just55:25want you know competent governance and55:27who are willing to listen to arguments55:28on both sides generally not into your55:30uncle who sends the weird emails and55:32your colleague who posts the crazy stuff55:33on Facebook right and God bless them55:35because at least they’re engaged with55:36the process but why aren’t the rest of55:38us we keep sending these people back to55:40Congress and expecting a different55:42result Congress has a huge personnel55:44problem and a big reason why is because55:46so many of the people we send there the55:48overwhelming majority of the people we55:49send there are elected in primaries and55:52when you never face a general election55:54thread in your district55:55what is the only incentive you have it55:57is to protect yourself in a primary and55:59when you are oriented as a lawmaker56:01toward protecting your flank and a56:03primary every day you wake up it’s gonna56:06have some really bad results for the56:07country and as more’d as we are you got56:10me on a tangent here but as worried as56:12we all may be about the executive branch56:15and some of its unsteadiness right now56:18the legislative branch in my opinion is56:20a much bigger concern because the56:22presidency is a transient office Trump56:24will come and go but the legislative56:26branch of the federal government is is56:28structurally in deep deep trouble and it56:31there’s no end in sight for it to the56:33second question really quickly about the56:35racial dog whistling look I just56:37mentioned what happened last night as56:38you said it’s not a dog whistle at this56:40point it’s just not and Donald Trump is56:44obsessed with the base Jonathan you know56:46this better than anybody if you talk to56:47people around the president he talks56:49incessantly about the base and when he56:51talks about the base he is talking56:53generally very narrowly56:55about the core people in his who come to57:01his rallies who wear the maggot hats57:03these typically tend to be your57:05blue-collar your more rural and exurban57:08middle and working class Americans white57:11evangelical in many cases and they are57:13the true believers right they are the57:15people who are with Trump no matter what57:17as he said if he shot somebody on Fifth57:18Avenue they’d still be behind him but57:20what Trump is missing is that with57:22incidents last night with every one base57:25voter who he may be mobilizing he’s57:28probably also alienating a suburban57:31college-educated57:32socially moderate Republican who wants57:35tax cuts and they may even want57:37conservative judges but they’re scared57:38out of their mind by what they saw last57:40night you know there’s an old saying in57:42Republican campaigns why would a57:45Republican ever go address the57:46n-double-a-cp a Republican presidential57:48candidate dress the n-double-a-cp57:51because you’re not gonna pick up any57:53more black votes and the answer is57:55always it’s not to pick up black votes57:57it’s to pick up the votes of white57:58suburban nights who want to see you58:00engage with the n-double-a-cp58:02politics is a coalition business and58:05Donald Trump won the presidency in 201658:07not just because of his base that we all58:09love to read about and all of these58:11stories from middle America about the58:13you know auto mechanic in the diner in58:15Ohio somewhere those people matter58:17obviously and they are you know big58:19supporters of the president but the58:20president won his campaign because he58:23had overwhelming support of these58:26traditionally Republicans suburban58:28moderates and what do we know we know58:30that in 2016 they voted for him and we58:32also know that in 2018 by virtue of this58:34Democratic takeover at least a58:36significant chunk of those traditionally58:39Republican suburban moderates they58:40flipped they voted for Democrats in the58:42suburbs from Salt Lake City to Orange58:44County to Detroit to Atlanta all across58:46the country so Donald Trump is playing58:48with fire here and it’s not just because58:50he’s mobilizing the Democratic base it’s58:52because he is potentially alienating58:53that other half of his coalition that he58:56needs to win in 2020 thank you so much58:58sure we are running out of time but I59:01want to take these last three questions59:03here if that last two questions here if59:06that’s I’m sorry I’m giving very long59:07answers59:09hi this may be beside the point at this59:12point but during the campaign I always59:16thought that Donald Trump’s hope for59:20outcome would be to win the popular vote59:22and lose the electoral vote and he could59:25go back to his business and say he was59:27cheated and you know not be worried with59:31the running of the government because he59:32didn’t obviously prepare anything for a59:35transition and election night he looked59:38pretty shocked and like he didn’t want59:41this well I would draw a distinction and59:44I want you to weigh in this also I would59:46draw a distinction between not wanting59:48to win and not expecting to win because59:51I did an awful lot of reporting on this59:54and I was never able to find anybody who59:57could credibly tell me that he did not59:59want to win Donald Trump is a very60:01competitive guy and we had to listen for60:0318 months to all of these talking heads60:05on cable tell us that this was just to60:07promote his hotel that this was just to60:09get his name back in the news that he60:11just loves the reality TV glare that60:13Donald Trump was gonna drop out before60:15the Iowa caucuses he didn’t actually60:16want to be President what all of that60:19missed is that Trump is a fiercely60:20competitive individual and that he loves60:22the grind of competition I don’t think60:26that Donald Trump expected to win and60:28matter of fact all of my reporting tells60:30me that he did not expect to win as I60:31say in describing election night in the60:33book Trump had to pretty quickly rewrite60:36his election night speech because he did60:38not have a victory speech prepared60:40and when Reince Priebus whispered in his60:42ear in one of their little war rooms I60:44think you’re gonna win everybody in the60:46room sort of stopped and time Stood60:48Still and Trump said okay we got to go60:50upstairs we got to go to the residence I60:52don’t have a speech so Donald Trump from60:58everything I know was certainly not61:00expecting to win the presidency because61:02he could see the same polling that we61:04all saw and not just the public polling61:06anybody inside of his campaign who tells61:09you that they thought that Donald Trump61:10was going to win is lying to you I’m61:12telling you that straight up and that61:13includes Steve man and who loves to go61:14around telling everybody the Trump was61:16gonna win he knew it from day one it’s61:18nonsense okay the war61:20Republican I did not interview for this61:22book with Steve Bannon and Swann gave me61:24a high five for that the other day61:25because for crying out loud61:27talk about an unreliable source so that61:29is that is the distinction I would draw61:32but you tell me what you think about61:34that shout it out I don’t know what’s61:47going on there he 100% wanted to win and61:52you know I remember being in a barn in61:55Virginia on Falls Church Virginia on61:58like 1:00 a.m. or I think Sun Monday62:02morning I guess last few days of the62:04campaign and Donald Trump was doing his62:06eighth rally of the day or something and62:08he wanted to win he really wanted to win62:10as much as anything he hates to be62:12humiliated people close to him believe62:14that he entered the campaign really is a62:17promotional vehicle one person close to62:19him told me he described it as the62:21world’s greatest infomercial but I think62:24one of his more revealing interviews62:26early on he says I think it’s worth62:28maybe mark Harper and he says he thinks62:30maybe it’s not on the record maybe62:33they’ve said that subsequently in public62:35that he thought he gave himself a 20%62:37chance of winning as time went on a62:41couple of things happened he got62:42addicted to the crowds and I don’t know62:44if people in this audience have been to62:45Trump rallies but I’ve been to a lot of62:48them and the only thing I can explain62:50I’ve covered politics in two countries I62:52have never seen a politician have such a62:55visceral connection with a crowd and the62:59only thing I can compare to is like63:00being in a Rolling Stones concert they63:02know the lyrics they know the lyrics63:05it’s call and response63:06you know he’ll say Hillary and the crowd63:08will just immediately start chanting63:10lock her up he’ll say the media the63:12crowd will immediately start chanting63:14CNN sucks it’s a drug for him and he was63:17intoxicated and he loved it and then as63:20time went on he thought well maybe I can63:22win I guess I’m down to the last two63:23Tim’s right none of them thought they63:25can win Steve Bannon does like to remind63:28me he did send an email which I still63:30have two weeks before the election where63:31he did predict all the states63:33I tend to think it was bluster more than63:35anything but he really was saying behind63:37the scenes that he was gonna win if that63:39makes any different but other staff were63:42like pre briefing us as reporters and63:44saying here are all the reasons why he63:46lost this is before the election and63:48here’s the way you can spin it etc so63:51you know that that would that’s the63:54reality yeah to add a final really quick63:57thought to that I spent the final week64:00of October I spent that week on the64:03campaign plane with Vice now vice64:05president pence then governor pence and64:07I can tell you as surely as I know that64:10I am sitting here with you that nobody64:13on that plane save for maybe Mike Pence64:16believed that they were going to win and64:18it was really interesting because they64:20were all beginning to spin me64:21essentially on Mike Pence 2020 right64:24they were all attempting to sort of you64:27know polish pence as the guy who was the64:30stable figure in the campaign and who64:31rejected the ugliness and the guy who64:33was going to come out of this looking64:34good and something really interesting64:36happened and it happened the day after64:40as you may recall64:42Pence’s plane went off the runway at64:45LaGuardia and I was on that plane64:47and it was kind of a remarkable scene as64:49the Secret Service jumped up with their64:51pistols and hovered near pence and64:52nobody quite knew what the hell to make64:54of any of it everyone on that plane that64:58I was with for almost a week64:59all of Pence’s top staffers said the65:02same thing no way that we’ve seen all65:04the numbers he cannot win Trump cannot65:06win on the last day I was with them we65:10had to get on a different plane that65:12didn’t have Wi-Fi because of the earlier65:14night’s incident and just as our plane65:17was coming down into Pennsylvania65:19dipping into cellphone range every65:22single person’s plane on the phone blew65:24up with an alert that James Comey had65:28sent a letter to Congress reopening the65:32investigation into Hillary Clinton’s65:33emails and I will tell you it’s65:35indelible in my mind I can see it today65:38there weren’t many of us on the plane65:40there were five reporters I believe in65:41four or five Secret Service and the Vice65:43President and five or six of his staff65:45were all65:46they’re clustered and I’m telling you65:48kid on Christmas morning does not begin65:50to describe the looks on the faces of65:52the pants people because for the first65:54time in the entire campaign there was a65:56flicker of hope however fleeting but a65:59flicker of hope that oh my goodness can66:01you believe our luck we might actually66:03win and I will remember that until the66:05day I die yes sir it’s my recollection66:08on the day the Access Hollywood tapes66:10were released the emails for John66:14Podesta were released like half a day66:17later I think so that that was another66:18factor in place but my question is why66:21is my conservative brother forgotten66:23that he’s an anti-communist you’re66:24suspicious of Russia66:26you know the Russia thing is actually66:28really fascinating because you will hear66:31a lot of Republican defenders of the66:33president say you know focus on what66:35this administration does not on what he66:38says and I think that by and large66:42that’s nonsense66:43I think that as I explained a minute ago66:45what the president says is of enormous66:47importance it moves markets it moves66:49military personnel at the president is66:52the most powerful person in the world66:54Russia is actually a pretty interesting66:57example of what they are talking about66:59however because if you were to examine67:01on a policy basis the administration’s67:04approach to Russia not his personally67:06but the administration’s and most67:08Republicans in Congress you would think67:11that it is a pretty typical Republican67:13you know cookie cutter Republican67:15approach to Russian relations in in67:18terms of sanctions in terms of some help67:21for allies in the region67:23the president’s relationship with67:26Vladimir Putin is so bizarre that I’m67:29not sure we will ever get to the bottom67:30of it and I’m not trying to be funny and67:32saying that it’s just the truth I don’t67:33know that we will ever understand look67:35and it’s not just Putin right the Donald67:38Trump has this affinity for strongmen67:40across the globe we have seen it time67:42and again and it is vexing not just to67:44us but to people in the administration I67:46don’t think that it will ever be67:48thoroughly explained but with Russia in67:52particular there is a huge chasm between67:55the president sort of playing footsies67:57with Vladimir Putin67:59and joking with him about election68:00interference and how he locks up68:02journalists ha ha isn’t that hilarious68:03all that stuff contrasted against the68:06administration itself and and the State68:09Department and the Republican Congress68:10and how they have approached Russia it68:12has been much more traditional so it’s a68:15little bit odd in that respect thank you68:19for coming out tonight everybody and68:20thank you so much for thank you guys68:24[Applause]
Mitch, on the other hand, has a longstanding alliance with the National Rifle Association, which has shown its affection to the tune of about $1.3 million in support. Anything the N.R.A. dislikes never gets the chance to come up for a Senate vote. Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is moldering away in a corner because the N.R.A. doesn’t want authorities taking guns away from domestic abusers.
It’s been another terrible year of mass shooting violence. One simple, very popular response would be to improve the background checks for gun purchases. It would at least show our elected officials care about the crisis.
Such a bill passed the House of Representatives and went to the Senate where it’s, um, lying around somewhere. “There’s a whole bunch of Republican support, but he won’t let it move to the floor,” said minority leader Chuck Schumer.
This goes on a lot. McConnell, who has near total control over what comes up for a vote, sits on things he doesn’t like until they smother. Farewell, immigration reform, Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions, lowering prescription drug prices, protecting election security, restoring net neutrality.
In a vintage return to his confrontational style, Sen. Ted Cruz indicated that Republicans could seek to block a Democratic president from filling the vacant Supreme Court seat indefinitely.
After staking his endorsement of Donald Trump on a list of potential conservative Supreme Court nominees, Cruz said on Wednesday that there is precedent to limiting the Supreme Court to just eight justices. Last week, Cruz’s colleague, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), suggested the GOP should confirm President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, to avoid having to swallow a more liberal nominee under Hillary Clinton.
When it came to filling a Supreme Court vacancy during the 2016 presidential election year, Senator Mitch McConnell had a constant refrain: Let the people decide. But should a high court seat become open in 2020, Mr. McConnell has already decided himself.
“Oh, we’d fill it,” Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, gleefully told a friendly Chamber of Commerce audience back home in Paducah on Tuesday.
Mr. McConnell regularly celebrates his history-altering 2016 decision to thwart President Barack Obama from filling a vacancy that occurred with 11 months remaining in his term, saying the seat should be kept open until a new president could be elected and inaugurated. But he has been laying the groundwork to change course ever since Donald J. Trump was elected president. Tuesday’s remarks were only his most definitive: He would not be bound by the standard he himself set in preventing Judge Merrick B. Garland from being seated on the high court.
The comments immediately drew howls of blatant hypocrisy from Democrats and progressive allies. They said it underscored their view that Mr. McConnell was unprincipled and acted out of purely partisan motives in 2016 when he single-handedly decided to blockade Mr. Obama’s choice to replace Antonin Scalia after the court icon’s death that February.
“The bad faith behind McConnell’s position on Merrick Garland was obvious to anyone who was paying attention at the time and is a major reason why the public increasingly views the court as a partisan institution,” said Brian Fallon, who heads the progressive judicial advocacy group Demand Justice.
The declaration by Mr. McConnell suggests that the makeup of the Supreme Court will again be a central issue in the 2020 campaigns for the White House and the Senate, particularly with the intensifying fight over abortion rights. The Scalia vacancy was credited with significantly aiding Mr. Trump and cementing his support on the right in 2016. Democrats, stung by the 2016 loss and the failure to seat Judge Garland, have since tried to emphasize the political import of the Supreme Court to their voters through the emergence of groups like Mr. Fallon’s.
The distinction that Mr. McConnell and his allies draw is that in 2016, the process of filling the Supreme Court vacancy was split between Democrats who controlled the White House and Republicans who controlled the Senate. Voters had rendered a split decision, handing the executive to Mr. Obama in 2012 and the Senate to Mr. McConnell two years later, the majority leader argued; therefore, the tiebreaker would go to the winner of the 2016 campaign.
This is a line Mr. McConnell emphasized in October 2018 when he first began indicating that he was more than ready to take up a Trump nominee in 2020, should the chance arise.
“The tradition going back to the 1880s has been if a vacancy occurs in a presidential election year, and there is a different party in control of the Senate than the presidency, it is not filled,” he said.
Mitch McConnell did everything he could to stonewall Obamacare, even though government health care once saved his life. Jon Lovett from Pod Saves America explains how the longest-serving GOP leader in Senate history went from Kentucky’s least believable frat boy to America’s Super PAC darling.
The Senate majority leader has become one of the few unambiguous winners of the Trump presidency so We look at whether his gains have come with a cost.
.. Over the past decade, the Senate Republican leader has emerged as a skilled legislative warrior, obstructing President Barack Obama’s agenda and enabling President Trump’s. But what does Mitch McConnell himself actually believe in?
.. Background reading:
“McConnell aspires to be not the bloody and maybe tragic hero in a revolutionary drama but one among a short list of undisputed masters of the machinery of American government,” Charles Homans writes his profile of the senator for The New York Times Magazine.
Mr. Homans interviewed Mr. McConnell for several hours over the course of two months, and also spoke to dozens of staff members, senators and cabinet members from the Obama and Trump administrations. Here are six takeaways from his reporting.
- [Paul von Hindenburg]
A book that every young man and woman starting out in life these days ought to have handy is Dariel Fitzkee’s “Magic by Misdirection,” a classic in the magical arts written decades ago by a once famous American performer. It basically tries to lay out all the varieties of misdirection—the ways that you can be asked to pay attention to one thing while the performer is doing another.
.. it’s a study in all the ways of drawing your attention away from this thing I’m doing here to that thing I’m doing there.
.. makes a distinction between, for instance, simulation and dissimulation: “Simulation is a positive act. It shows a false picture. Dissimulation is a negative act. It hides a true picture. One reveals and the other conceals.” A good magician can be simulating with one hand and dissimulating with the other, and you don’t know which is which.
.. Donald Trump’s genius for misdirection is to pile so many obvious ruses upon so many ham-handed sleights that the easily fooled parts of his audience are impressed by the audacity, while the more sophisticated parts of his audience, on left and right both, become so fatigued by the constant motion that they stop paying sufficient attention to the core point of the deception.
.. very often, the most brazen kinds of misdirection are the most successful, especially in the hands of a brazen performer.
.. Kavanaugh is not unqualified for the Supreme Court just because of something that he may have done when he was seventeen, or because of how he may have lied to the Senate about this or that specificity of his youthful behavior or about how he may have accepted illicitly obtained Democratic e-mails when he worked in the George W. Bush White House, or about his possible involvement in the effort to make torture seem acceptable. (Kavanaugh maintains innocence on all fronts.)
.. Trump’s purpose in appointing Kavanaugh to the Court was clearly to provide himself with a protective vote for whenever one issue or another arising from his misbehavior makes its way there
.. Kavanaugh’s convenient late-arriving conviction that Presidents should be protected from investigation—late arriving since he evidently felt very differently when he was pursuing Bill Clinton—is catnip to Trump.
.. anyone who had illusions about Kavanaugh not being an acolyte of Trumpism should have been disabused by his partisan performance last week, in which he made it quite apparent. That’s the deal. That’s the trick.
.. The maddening part of this misdirection is the unwillingness on the part of people who imagine themselves to be full of good will to say who Trump is and what he remains.
.. he is not uniquely responsible for the existence of a revanchist core of white men who so fear the assertion of minority power that they will go to almost any lengths, and make any deal with any devil, to prevent it. That core has been a consistent feature of American life since the post-Civil War period. President Ulysses S. Grant basically faced the same two parties: a party that accommodated what is now called identity politics, reaching out to a coalition of people—those African-American, Jewish, Native American, and Irish petitioners whom Grant tried to favor—who thought that the world was getting better and who supported some kind of benevolent government protection, and a party rooted in a base of revanchist whites who believed that the world was getting worse, who wanted to keep other groups from exercising too much political power, and who hated the federal government for helping them.
.. no sane person can accuse him of having been an immoderate or a non-conciliatory voice for his base.
.. his mistake was to vastly overestimate the reservoir of conciliation on the other side.
.. That’s why he tried to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court—a judge who had been cited by Republicans as an acceptable candidate
.. Two-sidedness is, in itself, a classic piece of misdirection, designed to draw your attention as much to the hand that isn’t doing anything as to the hand that is.
.. No duly elected leader of any mature democratic state has gone on repeated public rants against his enemies, fed cries of “lock her up” directed at a political opponent, or routinely threatened and abused a free press.
.. there is no figure in the Democratic Party who in any respect shares Trump’s rhetoric or mirrors Trump’s threats or repeats Trump’s hatreds. Such figures exist only on the fringes of the left, whereas Trumpism has now become the central and defining faith of the Republican Party.
.. Kavanaugh is an instrument of Trumpism, an insurance policy that the con man is writing for himself. The rest is misdirection.